Great Falls Historic District

Paterson City, Passaic County, NJ

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In 1791 Alexander Hamilton and others founded an industrial venture known as the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.). The formation of this Society embodied the theory propounded by Hamilton in his Report on Manufacturers (1791), that the best way to ensure America's independence of Europe was by establishing industries in the U.S.

Under Hamilton's guidance, the Society acquired land at Paterson, New Jersey, at the Great Falls of the Passaic River. The falls, one of the largest on the east coast, was to supply the power to various mills and manufactories through a 2-1/2 mile system of raceways. Although not a terribly successful venture at first, approximately 60 mills, as well as other manufacturing plants, were established in what is now the S.U.M. Historic District, many dating from the 1830s and 1840s.

The S.U.M. is recognized as being one of the sites where the American Industrial Revolution began, and was the first planned industrial area in the U.S. [1]

The Great Falls (SUM) historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

  1. Historical American Engineering Record (HAER NJ-2),, accessed December, 2009.

Street Names
McBride Avenue • Wayne Avenue

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